Obstetricians and gynecologists are responsible for a woman’s reproductive health. Obstetricians and gynecologists also monitor the health of an unborn child carried by a pregnant woman. OB/GYNs are responsible for caring for a baby from the time it is in the womb until delivery. It is estimated that 50% of obstetricians and gynecologists will face at least one malpractice lawsuit during their professional careers.
The word “obstetrics” refers to the type of medical care dealing with pregnancy and childbirth. Obstetrics include the time when a woman is pregnant and the processes leading up to and including childbirth. Thus, “obstetric negligence” refers to instances of negligence by a doctor or physician concerning a patient’s pregnancy or childbirth.
Obstetric negligence can form the basis of many types of medical malpractice claims. Several parties can be found liable for obstetric negligence, including doctors, surgeons, nurses, and hospital staff.
There is a difference between medical malpractice and medical maloccurrence. Medical maloccurrence is an adverse outcome unrelated to the quality of care delivered by an OB/GYN. Medical maloccurrences may include unavoidable risks, unpredictable patient complications, and informed choices made with the patient’s consent that might not have been appropriate in hindsight. Medical malpractice involves provable negligence, where a doctor makes a choice that a reasonably prudent doctor in the same situation would not make.
The most common causes of obstetrics and gynecology injuries are general mismanagement, failure to supervise or monitor, and negligence in a specific procedure. Diagnostic problems also cause obstetrics and gynecology injuries.
What Counts as Obstetric Negligence?
Pregnancy and childbirth can involve many different aspects of medical care and treatment. As such, there are many ways in which obstetric negligence can occur. To be found liable for negligence, the person must breach a duty of care that they owe to the patient, and the breach of duty must be the direct cause of the person’s injuries or losses.
Some examples of obstetric negligence are:
- Administering incorrect medications or treatments during pregnancy
- Wrong advice or medical treatment regarding gestational diabetes
- Various types of medical misdiagnosis during pregnancy or childbirth
- Errors that result in premature birth
- Medical errors resulting in birth injuries or birth defects
- Negligence during labor, such as negligence with regards to anesthesia
- Surgical negligence concerning a Caesarian section operation
- Special cases, such as those resulting in wrongful conception or birth
Who Can Be Liable for Obstetric Negligence?
To establish an obstetrician’s liability for a birth injury, you must show:
- The obstetrician owed a duty of professional care
- The obstetrician breached that duty of professional care
You should hire a credible and knowledgeable expert to prove an obstetric error. A skilled medical negligence attorney can help you. Experts in obstetric error cases are typically board-certified OB-GYNS who can evaluate the circumstances of your case and offer opinions about what a reasonable obstetrician would have done under the same or similar circumstances. An expert will help determine whether the defendant’s behavior deviated from the required standard of care.
What Are Damages in Obstetric Error Cases?
Damages for obstetric errors are usually compensatory. Compensatory damages intend to make a plaintiff whole or put them back in the position they would have been had the error not occurred. Compensatory damages can include both economic and non-economic losses. Economic losses related to birth injuries can be large depending on the severity of the injury.
Economic losses related to obstetric errors may include rehabilitation costs, medical bills, emergency room care, out-of-pocket costs, therapy costs, and medical equipment. Non-economic losses may include pain and suffering, anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life. In some cases, obstetric errors cause harm to both a baby and the mother. It may be possible to recover compensatory damages for maternal injuries in these situations.
Sadly, some obstetric errors cause fatal birth injuries for a newborn or maternal death. In these cases, you may be able to recover damages for wrongful death as a personal representative of the estate of a decedent or as a spouse or parent.
What is a Medical Misdiagnosis?
Every woman who wants to become pregnant deserves a healthy pregnancy and childbirth. There can be hurdles along the way, but a doctor should be there to help. Sometimes, this isn’t the case, and the doctor may be to blame for a birth injury or complication. This is considered obstetric malpractice.
Because pregnancy involves a woman and a baby, there are several ways for a misdiagnosis to occur. A mother could receive a misdiagnosis related to her symptoms or issues during her pregnancy. Obstetricians may also misdiagnose a mother during childbirth, resulting in negligent medical care. Likewise, doctors may misdiagnose a child with various issues, such as birth defects or genetic disorders. These cases cause undue stress and inaccurate medical care and lead to grounds for legal action.
What Are Birth Injuries?
Childbirth may be painful and challenging. The birthing process can become even worse when handled by a negligent physician. Medical errors during pregnancy can result in the premature birth of a child, birth defects in a child, or birth injuries to the mother. These injuries can include unnecessary surgeries and anesthetic negligence during labor.
The result can be undue physical or psychological distress from the mother, especially if medical negligence happens during a C-section. Regardless of what form these injuries take, incompetent or inattentive medical care can be grounds for a lawsuit.
What Are Prescription Errors?
Doctors are responsible for ascertaining certain information, completing a diagnosis, and creating a treatment plan for their patients. Treatment plans often include writing prescriptions for patients. However, doctors may write erroneous scripts or give you the wrong medication during your pregnancy. The effects of prescription errors can be significant.
A prescription error can occur due to a failure to properly address a patient’s history, impacting both the treatment and the pregnancy. Complications due to hypertension, diabetes, and other reproductive issues often result in an injury to the mother.
Are There Any Legal Penalties for Obstetric Negligence?
Most medical negligence and malpractice claims result in a damages award. These damages are usually calculated to cover various losses such as medical bills, hospital payments, and lost wages in cases involving serious injuries or losses.
Other times, the damages awards can be quite substantial. Final consequences may occur in connection with obstetric negligence, such as a loss of operating license or civil fines. In cases involving gross or severe negligence, criminal consequences can also result.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with an Obstetric Negligence Legal Claim?
Obstetric negligence can involve some serious injuries and medical costs. It may be necessary for you to hire a personal injury lawyer in your area if you need any assistance with a negligence or malpractice claim. Your attorney can provide you with up-to-date legal advice and research the law if you have any specific questions. Also, if you need to file a lawsuit or attend a court session, your lawyer can represent you during those times.
Consider using LegalMatch’s services today. Our services are guaranteed to be 100% confidential. By selecting the particular issues in your case, you can easily narrow down your search for a personal injury lawyer in your area. Schedule a free consultation now.